Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use (SDD) Among Young People in England Survey

Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use (SDD) Among Young People in England Survey: Information for schools

What is the study about?

The Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use study has been running since 1982. This year the study will collect information on the attitudes and experiences of more than 12,000 secondary school pupils. The study asks pupils about their experiences of smoking (including vaping), drinking and taking drugs (including nitrous oxide use), and how they make choices about them. Schools will have the opportunity to take part in the Autumn term of 2023.

The research contributes to National Statistics which are used by government departments and local authorities to inform policy and plan services to help improve young people’s lives. The study is very high profile and has a significant impact on policy-making across government.  It is used by a wide range of government departments to design and monitor the impact of national and local policy. For example, it is sued by the Department of Health and Social Care, the Department for Education, and the Home Office. Additionally, it is used by the NHS, local government, charities, and industry groups that aim to protect children.

What will your school get for taking part?

If your school takes part they will receive two lesson plans from the PSHE Association designed to fit in with the national curriculum. The lesson plan will cover informed consent, explain how data is gathered for research studies, how this can be kept private and how it might be used. The PSHE Association will also be involved in promoting the survey, reaching out to their network of teachers. Schools who take part will also receive a personalised report showing how your school’s data compares against national averages. Findings are completely confidential: no-one will be able to identify which schools or pupils have taken part in the study from the data.

Who is carrying out the study and who is it being conducted for?

The study is being carried out by Ipsos, a leading market research organisation which has extensive experience of carrying out surveys of young people. Ipsos have been commissioned to conduct the survey by NHS England. NHS England has a responsibility to collect, analyse and publish health data, including that on young people’s health. The survey is funded by the UK Government.

Who has reviewed this study?

The methodology and the information we provide to participating schools and pupils was reviewed and approved by an internal ethics board in July 2023.

Why was the school selected to take part?

A randomly selected, representative sample of schools across England has been chosen from ’Get Information about Schools’; a database of all secondary and middle schools in the country. The aim is to survey class groups in these schools so that the survey gives an accurate picture of the attitudes and experiences of 11-16 year olds.

What if your school has not been selected to take part?

You can still take part. For the first time we are opening up the survey to any school to also volunteer to take part. If you are interested in taking part but have not been approached by Ipsos please email You will receive the PSHE Association lesson plans and the personalised school report for taking part in the survey.

How will the survey work?

The survey will be completed in schools during one lesson slot, it will take 20-30 minutes to complete. Three mixed ability classes will need to take part. The survey will be completed online either in an IT classroom or on a tablet/laptop in exam conditions (the survey must not be completed on a mobile device). The survey will be administered by a classroom teacher, full instructions and guidance will be provided to the schools ahead of the survey taking place and a study administrator will be on hand to answer any questions.

Will we be informing parents / carers about the study?

Ipsos will provide a letter for parents/carers which the school must send to parents/carers a week before the survey session. Parents/carers will be given information about the study and on how they can withdraw their child from taking part, if they wish.

Will the school be judged on the results?

No. The findings are used to understand young people's attitudes towards, and experiences of, smoking, drinking and drugs. Your school will not be named in any publications.

What happens to the findings?

The findings from the survey will be written up in a national statistics report, which is planned to be published on the NHS England website in Summer 2024. The survey is anonymous, no identifiable information about the pupil is collected. Pupils’ answers will be combined, and only anonymous data will be reported. The publication will not identify any individual school or pupil. The results will be presented in statistical reports and tables including breakdowns by age, gender and ethnicity.

A data file containing the anonymous survey answers will be added to the UK Data Service Portal, which holds data for hundreds of the UK’s most important research studies. Researchers will be able to request access to the data but will not be able to identify which schools or pupils have taken part in the study.

Previous national level results can be found here:

What are the questions about?

The questions in the survey ask about pupil demographics, including ethnicity, as well as smoking (including vaping), drinking and drug use experience. The survey is completely voluntary: pupils will be provided with information about the survey and given an opportunity to withdraw from taking part before they are asked to complete the survey. See the full survey here.

Is taking part compulsory?

No. Taking part is completely voluntary. Schools’ help is really valuable in making sure we understand the lives of all young people. It is also important for us to hear from different schools so we can get a complete picture. The results of the survey are used by the NHS, charities and Government, so they can make the right decisions about how to help young people. The survey can also be completed as part of your PSHE programme.

Data protection and confidentiality

The survey is carried out to fulfil NHS England's legal functions under the NHS Act 2006 to conduct, commission or assist the conduct of research into any matters relating to illness and such other matters connected with health services. 

This research is anonymous and complies with the Market Research Society Code of Conduct. The Market Research Society (MRS) is the UK professional body for research, insight, and analytics. Taking part in this survey is voluntary.

The survey does not collect personal information or any data that may identify an individual child. The survey only collects responses to the questions asked regarding smoking drinking and drug use. Ipsos will store responses securely and keep them confidential. 

Answers to the survey will be aggregated and will be used to fulfil NHS England's functions in relation to its duties under the NHS Act. Only aggregated statistics will be shared and published.  

All of the research is carried out in line with the Market Research Society (MRS) Code of Conduct. Everything that pupils tell us will be treated in complete confidence. You have the right to contact the MRS or ICO if you wish to complain about any aspect of this research.   

More information on what data is collected and how data is processed by the survey can be found in our Privacy Notice here. Information on how to complain to Ipsos or the ICO can also be found in the Privacy Notice.  

The survey does not collect any personal data or data that may identify an individual.

Who can I contact if I have any further questions about SDD or am interested in taking part?

You can email the Ipsos survey team at SDDsurvey@ipsosresearch, or call on 080 8101 2066.

Some useful reports for schools: